Ordeal of an American Muslim

One of the happiest days in my life was the day in 1999 when I became an American citizen. Born in Italy while my Syrian father, then a medical student, was doing his residency there, I had later met and married a Syrian-American U.S. citizen, Rashid Jijakli, the father of my three American-born children.

Three years after our marriage, I became eligible for citizenship, passed the citizenship test, proudly took the oath of allegiance, sang the “Star-Spangled Banner”, waved my little souvenir flag, and – with a few tears – began a wonderful new life.

One of the things a prospective citizen studying for that citizenship test learns about is the Bill of Rights – a powerful testament to the American love of freedom, especially so, for me, in the Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Have you perhaps heard about the “checkpoints” that are so familiar in the Arab Middle East? A “checkpoint” is nothing more or less than an unreasonable search, always with the risk of arrest by the mukhabarat or secret police.

How grateful I was, how liberated I felt, to be at last the citizen of a free country where such searches and seizures were forbidden by the most basic law of the land.

But does the Fourth Amendment apply to me, a Muslim-American citizen in a simple hijab? Does it apply at Los Angeles International Airport?

On February 23, 2016, I arrived at LAX booked on a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul and then to Gaziantep. Gaziantep is a city in South-Central Turkey, near the Syrian border, where my aged mother and two brothers are living as refugees from the Syrian wars. Continue reading

  • Lubana Adi cares for her three children at home in Los Angeles County and volunteers in the neighborhood school.

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